an ever changing december

traditions must change, and some fade away. and yet this is christmas, once again. it's the red and evergreen and joy and king and gifts given season. or so i've always been told. this christmas looks strikingly different than it has in years past though, as the family get together's are farther and fewer in between. my loved ones are separated by hours upon hours of driving time, whereas they once were within arms reach. and now there are three less grandparents this year, instead of the two that there were in the years before twenty-twelve. my work days fall on holidays, and sadly, traditions get pushed to the wayside; rescheduled. in all of this change christmas becomes somehow a bittersweet taste upon my tongue; a hard to swallow change; a change that whispers "you're growing up, love."

this adult life strikes fast and hard, and for the first time christmas doesn't feel so magical as it once had before, when i was the carefree child swimming in traditions. christmas this year has me struggling to breathe. the chaos i so welcomed (which was not a bad thing) has gladly enveloped me so. and cheer, yes cheer, it is but a fought for commodity that doesn't show its face willingly. but this is all okay...somehow or another.

if i must cry about my lost loved ones who won't fill the empty chairs at our table, or greet me with warm hugs, or beg me to play christmas carols for them on the piano this year, then i will cry. i will miss my beloved and his family, who've been missing from christmas for the last two years...this year and the last. yes, i can release these mighty tears that dwell within. these tears have had me realize that christmas, life, is but an ever changing occurrence, and i am growing up after all. everything is not bittersweet with change, though it feels like it in the moment when it crashes over you in a wave of sadness. through these storms of life we learn to trust in Him. and this is what i shall do this christmas. i will cling to Christ and accept the things i cannot change. and i will continue to press on; to move.

joy and peace and love will be found, not in the many changing seasons or passing faces of this world, but in the gift of our King, Jesus Christ. so i will choose to welcome change this christmas, in the midst of everything. i will become a small timid candle, wreathed in a room full of darkness. december has changed, and because it has i will surely change too.

whether your christmas is full to the brim with the taste of bittersweetness or unspeakable joy this holiday season, know this: life will change, seasons will shape us and God will continue to write our life-story.

love & peace to you this christmas season,
restless bird

images one // two

moving into the chaos

everything is formless in the beginning, until we step into the darkness, the void, and bring the light of creation. God moved into that void of chaos and darkness in Genesis and declared light. yes, He created light in a darkness-wreathed place. so why can't you and i do the same thing? when life thrusts us into the chaos, why can we not move into it swiftly, daringly, even trusting? can we not create vital vividry of soul to set us free, to become light-bringer's too in this creative process named life?

honestly, i feel as if i'm restrained in the darkness when i cannot create, or when i cannot write or read or sketch or paint or photograph. i breath artistry and creativity. it fills me. and when i do not have those outlets to rescue me from my chaos filled world i feel suffocated and not wholly like who i should be in the moment. i was meant to create. it's obvious i was meant to move into this chaos. to bring light out of it, harvesting pure beauty.

moving into the chaos. yes, this is the song of my soul in this very moment. december has become chaotic, and has definitely had its dark moments, but now i know how to free myself. i'll cling to the Eternal One in the shroud of this chaotic darkness, this mountain valley, and i will steadily create as i can, climbing into the light of the mountain heights as i go. and i will become light-bringer to an already very chaotic world. a world that screams for Christ and peace and purpose even more than i do.

// image via pinterest // 

welcome december, with tireless hope

Why, hullo there!

It truly is a silent, still kinda night. I am sitting here criss-cross-applesauce on my bedroom floor, that consequently, because of my busyness as of late, has not been vacuumed for far too long (not that you needed to know that factoid or anything.) My laundry is still in the dryer from three days ago (shhh don't tell anybody I have a thing for wrinkled clothing!) and there are all sorts of devo and fiction books strewn all over my room. But somehow, in the mess of it all, I still have clean clothes to wear, have managed to find the time to read a chapter here and there before I roll into bed and pass out every night after work and have a smile on my face.

It really does feel like I've silently abandoned my blog, and you, my dear blog readers, over the last couple of weeks. And while I have disappeared for a while, it has definitely not been because I have wanted to pull a Houdini on all of you. I pinky swear on that one. You see, in case you are new to the nest or have just forgotten, I work retail at a Christian bookstore...and it's Christmastime. Can you possibly see where I'm going with this? It's the super-busy season for us retailers, and I've been lucky to even get in a single deep breath or even a shower everyday as of late because of all this said busyness. Yeah, I'm being totally serious here, and I am beyond exhausted. So, that my friends is why I have been M.I.A. up until this very moment. The only thing I can hear in this moment is the refreshing sound of my deep (finally) restful breaths and the clanking of my tired fingers upon Quorra's (my laptop) keyboard, which is splashed against the backdrop of utterly still, welcomed silence. I absolutely love these still moments, and winter songs like this one that tug at my heartstrings and paint my soul with a dash of joy and warmth.

I'm not really sure what to say, still; as I mentioned before in my last blog post. I mean, I know that God is trying to speak to me right now (somehow) throughout all of this craziness that goes by the name of December. But I wonder what all of this holiday-hoopla-craziness and stress within my work, home and love life is supposed to teach me? I find it completely amusing that my One Word for twenty-twelve was PEACE and now that is the very aspect I am struggling with finding and having the most this December. Sigh. I guess this month is supposed to be the last big hurrah in teaching me a thing or two about how to possess peace before I choose a new One Word to focus on for twenty-thirteen, huh?

For the time being I guess I'll just have to keep my eyes and ears and heart attuned to God in this Winter Wondering-land. That sounded kinda juvenile and silly, but it's true. I do feel like I'm caught in a wondering-land instead of a delightful winter wonderland. Despite the chaos of everything that is going on in my life at the moment, I want to be the restless one who seeks after this elusive creature, this Christmas joy, with a tireless hope that awaits the days to come, because "the future is white."

With all that said, I may not be seen around the nest all that much for the next little while, or at least not until December is over with probably. But I'll leave things here on the blog open ended for now.

Until the silence strikes me again...

 Pea Ess: I'd love to hear about your December so far! Have you had a joy-filled go of December, or are you restless like me? Let's swap prayers and stories, okay?

of art and of worry. more is less.

life-worries flood in over me, swelling, suffocating. and i wonder if i'm strong enough to weather all this? i want to be, but then again i know i don't always have to be strong. no, not always. i can be strong and weak at the same time, indeed, with my indwelling king guiding this restless vessel through the life-dust. 

and i wonder if i'm supposed to tell you that i am unsure and can't make sense of things right now, like my daring friend? in doing so, do i reveal my worried self? the young one standing behind the curtain of restless reservations? this scares me so, to reflect, to strip my heartstrings bare in this arcadia. this place where i try to make sense of my ruffled and restless feathery-life. but is also frees me.

and then i realize that maybe My Jehovah is speaking to me, through the silence, through this unsure life chaos and the general dust of everyday life. yes, maybe My Prince of Peace is speaking over me after all. maybe the calm is just lurking somewhere around the bend, or it is just settled warmly, quietly, nestled within this restless bird soul in wait, while i learn to move with my life-song's every turning page.

once again i find myself, my life-breath anchored in My Jesus, in the whispered frightened prayers that ask where to go next...and in the more.

loving more + writing more + reading more + creating more+ praying more+ singing more + laughing more + counting the gifts more

so i will decide to live as one dusted off. one who speaks soul-art and lives out loud, even in the silence. to be beauty and artistry and restlessness and the more. one combined. the girl who moves dust, and paints life lovely

yes, i calmly decide, this surrendered artist-life, the beauty-life, the more-life, brings one to a place of worrying less and living more. 

and i am canvas and pen and dust washed away.

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs // Book Review

Age Range: 15 and up 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012 
Pages: 224
Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Summary (from Goodreads):      

Christmas Eve 1894 

All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home. 

Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. 

When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?

As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.

What I Loved: I loved everything about this book! From the characters, to the writing style, to the beautifully described Scottish setting. Yes, I was truly smitten with this Christmas novella! A Wreath of Snow, set in Stirling, Scotland, on Christmas Eve 1894 is the story of Meg, a young independent schoolteacher, who doesn't really want to go home for the holidays to face her brother's ever growing bitterness, and Gordon Shaw, a very handsome newspaper man who hides a burden of a secret in his past. Are you hooked already? I was and still am. The story was incredibly fast-paced and a completely enjoyable read from beginning to end. I was definitely surprised at how the novella's last chapter or so went, but surprised in a very good way, mind you. I loved this historical novella so much so that I actually went out to a used bookstore and bought *all* of Liz Curtis Higgs' other Scottish novels too. Yes, I loved AWOS that much! In fact, AWOS was so incredibly charming that I *will* be keeping my copy of it and will surely pull it out to read by the fireside, hot cocoa in hand, at Christmastime for many years to come. 

What I Didn't Like So Much: There was nothing I didn't like. The only thing I would've wished to have seen done differently is for Meg and Gordon's story to have carried on  a bit longer. But who knows? Maybe Mrs. Higgs will write a continuing story about Meg and Gordon. ;-)

I'm Recommending This Book... 
If you are a lover of all things Scottish, Victorian, Historical Fiction, or just want to read a lighthearted story of redemption and forgiveness at Christmastime then you should give A Wreath of Snow a faithful read. You won't be sorry.

About The Author: Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of thirty books, with more than three million copies in print. Her six Scottish historical novels have won the hearts of readers and reviewers around the globe. Whence Came A Prince received a Christy Award for Best Historical Novel. Here Burns My Candle won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and Mine Is The Night was a New York Times bestseller.

Liz is happily married to Bill Higgs, who serves as director of operation for her speaking and writing office. When she's not traveling to Scotland for research, Liz can be found curled up with a good book in their old Kentucky home, a nineteenth-century farmhouse near Louisville.

Check out these other links...

Purchase A Wreath of Snow from Amazon

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Gratitude: The Well-Worn Road To Peace

image via

I read this passage from Jesus Calling yesterday, and thought it spoke volumes for today, as we remember to thank the Eternal One for all He has given: 

(page 340 // november 21st)

This passage in Jesus Calling speaks of gratitude, which brings about His peace. And what Sarah Young speaks of in this passage is so very true: it is utterly impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising the Eternal One. Yes, this I have (recently) learned.

You know, I've only just begun to learn what this art of the eucharisteo life truly means. At the beginning of this year, when I first chose my One Word I thought that God would just stop letting the worry bombard me so badly. I honestly thought that THAT was what the true meaning...the equivalent...of what peace truly was/is. But then at the end of the Summer, in August, the Lord started revealing to me that peace was Him, not just an absence of worry in my life. It was after that epiphany in August that I decidedly learned to know God and peace, and how they beautifully intertwine together. Peace, indeed, is not a thing. Rather it is a Holy Spirit, a Slain and Risen-again Son, and our Eternal One. Over the last couple of months I've also (slowly) discovered, through counting my gifts one by one, that gratitude, above all else, draws me closer to the wellspring that is Christ, and coming closer to Christ ultimately grants me that peace that this restless heart has so desired for so very long. 

Really, it is quite funny to me how nothing ever comes about in just one step, or that answers don't just fall into our laps. No, true growth in our faith-walk comes through the repetitive motions in life lessons learned, through trials, through the mundane days, through tattered threads strengthened, through the eucharisteo life and sometimes even through becoming the silence. Oh, and of course I've also learned that He brings peace through the restlessness too! And we can learn none of these things without first knowing and surrendering to the Eternal One. 

Yes, I have come to learn this year that all the tattered threads become entwined, stillness and silence aren't so bad after all, and eventually they lead to knowing the Eternal One on a much deeper level. This I hold dear, near and true: Knowing the Eternal One brings about thanksgiving and thanksgiving brings about peace.

So, on this day I declare myself a Pilgrim of Peace, a journeyer into this sometimes foreign-to-me land of eucharisteo living. 
Will you join me today, friend, and begin to count gifts given?

// count the gifts, because peace is found through thanksgiving //

dear-heart friends, like the daring girl and the vintage soul, who are truly kindred spirits

sitting in momma's lap, holding fast my stomach, which aches from bouts of laughter

big bear hugs from my daddy after a long work week

my Jehovah Shalom who has taught me to live out eucharisteo

blogger friends who share their dear-heart life, written on e-paper

the handsome man who holds my heart and calls me his bride-to-be

my creative friend, the one who calms my restless spirit and sets my artsy side free

my younger sister, the one who is everything I am not, and yet still loves me

piano keys, which loose my inner stifled heartsong and pent up emotions 

for family, both near and far, who come together to break bread and give thanks today

my blog readers, who faithfully follow, comment, and minister to my restless soul

Gaurdian by Heather Burch // Book Review for the Z Street Team

Age Range: 15 and up
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Release Date: Oct 9th 2012
Pages: 320
Publisher: Zondervan

Tag Line: "They chose to protect her. But forgot to guard their hearts."

Summary: Vigilance. The mission to safeguard Nikki Youngblood depends on the fragile alliance of two half-angel, half-human guardians, both struggling with intense feelings for the girl who has been assigned to their care. Mace, steadfast and deeply in love, wants to protect Nikki at all costs, while Raven's loyalty to Nikki finds him advocating for her independence and battling his own darker inclinations. At the same time, Nikki finds it harder and harder to choose between the two heavenly beings she may never have. Dangers intensify, and tensions between Mace and Raven flare as the purpose of their mission becomes clear. Can their defenses hold up to master manipulator Damon Vessler and the powerful secret he holds regarding Nikki's heritage? Can anyone protect Nikki from her true purpose and destiny?

What I Loved: To be honest, I wasn't really that overly crazy about Guardian, but The last 4 chapters of Guardian were awesome and fully redeemed the series for me. But...I can't tell you what *AWESOME BIG THINGS* happen in the last couple of chapters because they contained HUGE SPOILERS. Also, the writing was just as great as always, despite the plot seemingly being m.i.a.

What I Didn't Like So Much: Guardian started out extremely slow, for me. I mean, it literally took me 5 chapters in before I even got remotely interested with the story at all. Also, the plot, which was excellent in the first book, was utterly lost and drowned out in a sea of emotionally confused characters who, weirdly enough, were happily entwined in a disappointing love triangle. Nikki didn't really seem to care about anyone other than herself either, which caused me such grief throughout the book. 

Often it seemed as if Nikki didn't mind dragging Mace and Raven's feelings through the mud at all. I mean, I honestly just wanted to shake Nikki for stringing along Mace and Raven the whole time. And I wanted to shake Mace and Raven too, and tell them to man up already! Honestly, what kind of a man would just stand there and let a young woman give them a proverbial "heart beating" and not care if she chose the other guy over himself or not!? Seriously!? No guy I know would stand back and let the young woman they truly love rule the situation, AND their feelings, and then just let the young woman calmly walk away with their ripped-to-pieces-heart in her hands. No, that would never happen in real life. If the romance in the story was more like that of a real romance Mace and Raven would've fought over Nikki and would've ultimately taken charge in the midst of the complication (ahem, love triangle) themselves and not just let Nikki run over them like they were pitiful beaten down doormats or something. 

That said, I *normally* do like a healthy dose of romance, or even a well done love triangle (think Christine/Raoul/Phantom...because those men were manly and didn't let Christine jerk 'em around!!) in a story, but the whole Nikki/Raven/Mace love triangle had me sick to my stomach, frustrated beyond belief and quite baffled most of the time. 

Honestly, I wanted to know more about Damon Vessler, the Hell Hounds, the Demons, Nikki's abilities as a Seer and the Omega Corporation, more than I wanted to know about which halfling-of-the-moment wussed out and let Nikki string them along for the I-just-can't-decide-between-you-two-hunks train. 

I think this book relied on romance, and not the glorious plot set up in Halflings, a little bit too much this go around. So, here's to hoping that Avenger can shake Nikki, Mace, Raven and the others up a bit more to the realms of believable romance and reality.

Okay, rant almost over.

In spite of everything I am still looking forward to reading Avenger to see how the story plays out. I mean, the last 4 chapters truly blew my mind, so I have to read the last book now, you know? I really wish that the way the last 4 chapters had read would've been the route that the author would've taken with the entire novel. If the book would've lost the cheap romance I certainly would've given this book a couple more stars, but as it stands I only "kinda liked" the book and would give it a 2.5/3 star rating.

I'm Recommending This Book... If you read Halflings, the first book in the Halflings trilogy, and you want to see the story through to the end then you'll most definitely want to read this one too.

About The Author: Heather Burch grew up in Branson, Missouri, where she learned to love fiction. She then married into a family of published novelists and quickly learned writing was her heart's desire. When she's not working on her latest book, Heather can be found watching a sunset at a beach near her home in Southern Florida, along with her sons Jake and Isaac, and husband, John--who is her hero in every way. 

// Zondervan's Z Street Team gave me the privilege of reviewing an ARC of this book for FREE. Thank you, Zondervan! //

Check out these other links...

read my review of Halflings (book #1 in the Halflings Trilogy)

Author's Website:

Purchase Guardian HERE
Get the FREE ebook prequel HERE
Watch the Book Trailer HERE

mag poetry :: volume one

I recently tried my hand at writing some "magazine poetry" with my dear super-creative friend, Ruth. She grabbed an add on coffee and went wild, and I just so happened to snatch up an old issue of Better Homes & Garden and randomly flipped through it and chose words or phrases that "spoke to me." After Ruth and I both had our list of words and phrases jotted down on our individual sheets of paper we decided to read them aloud together to see what all the fuss was over mag poetry. Much to our shock and awe, the words of which spoke to us, out of random magazines mind you, actually read like lovely lyrical poetry when they were strung together without the intention of being a poem.

That said, I'd love to share some of my mag poetry with you. Have you ever tried stringing random prose-filled words together before?

- - - - - -

soul paint in the mirror 

a more beautiful tomorrow
fresh living
be colorful
lose the fear
where life happens
find your soul paint, a fog grey
to inspire, simple pleasures
find your muse
bloom continuously, scattered
evoke, center stage
inspiration to grow on
change of season
beautifully different, original
rise and shine, fearlessness
silver lining
so real
get closer, explore
we run free, roam free, live free
bring joy, salt and light
a mirror challenges 
what's possible


lives of civil servants, 
climbing and falling
submit to arcadia, retreat
be used to plan
hope will enlighten, 
and inspire you
this is how you lose her, and listen
whatever it was i needed
courage or naivete, 
foresight or luck
it enabled us to remain hopeful, joyful
and most of all imaginative
simply in awe, 
we had no choice
it's not an easy question to answer
i think about things never done 
you're not alone
my dark companion these days, 
thanks for reminding me why 

/// photo sources, one and two /// 

A Brave Giveaway // Mrs. Southern Bride

Hi there! Just wanted to take a moment to let ya'll know that my blogger friend Heather over at is giving away a copy of the new Disney/Pixar movie Brave on her blog this week and today is the last day to enter. 

You can find out more details about the giveaway HERE

For The Love & Perks of Reading YA Fiction

For The Love: I absolutely love YA fiction! In fact, I rarely read anything else other than YA fiction. I mean, yes, I do happen to read the occasional Non-Fiction and Middle Grade Reader books and all, but overall I prefer to read YA literature and the various branches and genres that lie therein. I love how adventurous and imaginative and fearless the characters and the authors in the YA field are. I'll be honest, adult fiction usually bores me to tears (sans a few books), mostly I assume because I am such a dreamer myself (a true idealist really), an unrequited lover of fairytales and otherwordly settings which dwell beyond the usual realms of possible...or is it plausible? belief (except those authors of which of course are adult YA fiction writers.) I decidedly like to dwell somewhere, through finely woven stories, in between dreams and sweet fantastical improbability. YA literature is the gateway to that reckless abandon, so full of dreams, and that anything-goes-because there-aren't-any-rules mentality. Oh, and the vividry of escapism into a time of youth! Yes, I simply love it. 

Honestly, I feel kind of weird admitting (just like my blogger friend Kristin did in her post) that I truly enjoy reading YA fiction, even more so than mainstream adult fiction. And the reason for this is mostly because I was never the typical teenager, nor did I face most issues that are dealt with in YA literature. I mean, I've always got along with my family swimmingly. I was never the angsty or rebellious teenager, and I always took a book with me to friends' birthday parties growing up, just because that was how I rolled. So, I was always the "different" kind of teenager who couldn't relate to many YA characters growing up, but now I just so happen to looooove reading about them, especially if their story is set as a fantasy, or in outer space or in an alternate world or even in a different historical time period altogether. 

So, yeah, even though I rarely, if ever, have identified with YA characters growing up as a teenager myself, I absolutely love reading about them now! Now, usually I read nothing but YA fiction. I love the coming-of-age story, and the budding romances and, again, the reckless abandon that storms across the plethora of pages in most YA fiction nowadays. Really, I just love YA fiction versus all other fiction genres. Probably because I myself love to read YA fiction, and I love to write in this medium too. YA fiction opens up my mind to imagination's flight, and I cannot stop the dream-train, for it is far too alluring not to do so. At least I think so.

For The Perks: Reading through the lives of other fictional, yes fictional, teenagers fuels my mind and soul with so much wonder that I can barely contain myself. I love seeing a "story-life" through the eyes of teenage or young adult characters in other worlds, or even sometimes set in our own world. I really do. Like I said up above earlier, the realms of YA are not afraid to travel outside the box of normalcy, which is utterly exciting to me. I mean, YA novels/authors are not afraid to abandon all and just dream wide open. This, my friends, is why I read YA fiction, and I will continue to do so until the day I die. I want to be the incessant dreamer, the proverbial portrait of the literary idealist, and the young woman who is grown up enough in appearance, but never truly is at heart. See, there are perks aplenty with YA lit! Please say you'll pick up a YA book now, will you?

Below are some of my favorite YA authors/books...

YA Books I Love (in no particular order):
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Holes by Louis Sachar
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Replication: The Jason Experiment by Jill Williamson
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle

YA Series I Love (in no particular order):
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
The Wrinkle In Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle
Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
Swipe Series by Evan Angler
DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul
Angelaeon Circle Series by Karyn Henley
River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin 
The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson
The Shadowmancer + The Wormwood Series by G.P. Taylor

YA Books I'm Currently Reading:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Guardian by Heather Burch *review coming soon to the blog!

So, what about you? Do you love YA fiction as much as I do? What are your fave YA books? Do YOU have any YA book suggestions to share with us here at the nest? 

I love to chat about books and authors and YA fiction, so feel free to converse of such things at your leisure!


If you like YA fiction too, Beth Revis, author of the Across The Universe Trilogy, is hosting a huge book giveaway on her blog! Seriously, there are tons of signed YA books up for grabs! 

Find out more info about the YA Book Giveaway HERE

Three Years with Hearts Full of Love

Dear Love,

Oh, but where to begin? We've known each other for about three years and four months now total, and we've been together in a dating relationship since you accidentally called me on a Sunday evening just three years ago as of today. That call changed our lives forever, immensely, and I am ever so grateful and happy for that blissful accident of a phone call! *wink wink* We were so young and timid then, laughably so. My, oh my, but how the time flies!?

Yes, indeed a lot has changed in three years time for us, as I know you already know. We've grown together, a lot. I am so glad that I am the girl who got to grow up to become a strong young woman by your side, with your patient help and your endearing love through these last three years together. It has been a wonderful ride, hasn't it?

And because of you I've learned to grow, and how to fly. Honestly, you complete me like no one else ever could. You are my best friend, my love, my muse, my fellow dreamer and my constant supporter. And I love you. Through your own every day examples I have learned to cherish the time that God has given us together, the full life that He has given us, and I pray that He will continue to give us an abundant helping of more time together, because I couldn't think of a better guy of whom I'd want to spend the rest of my life with. I really couldn't, Jay!

Yes, today and always, I hope that you'll remember just how much I deeply love you. I am so thankful and blessed to know you, your soul, your deepest most inner self. Thank you for letting me in so many years ago and for offering me a piece of paper with your e-mail address on it. Life would be kinda dull had you not let me in and taken a chance like you did.

Jared, I cherish you, just the way you are...quirks and unruly hair and messy room and all. You are an amazing man. I love the way you unflinchingly claim your identity as a nerd, and with such amusing pride at that (because secretly I am a BIG nerd too!) I love how you have the most Brobdingnagian verbose vocabulary ever. I love the way your emotive blue-grey eyes light up a room when they lock a hold on my own eyes. I love your deep chest-ricocheting laugh, as it is always unrestrained and infectious and it makes my heart swell a thousand times over. I love the way you love me, ever so strongly and sweetly. I love how you always pray over me, uplifting me to our glorious King. I love that you never, ever, ever, give up, and that you always, always, persevere through whatever storm in life you are currently facing. I love how you always see the bright side of things, the glass is always half full to you. I ardently admire the way you turn to God and to prayer first before you turn to look to a man or a book or thoughts of your own. I love the way you count every day a blessing, and have taught me how to do so...just name five things, Sarah Elizabeth.

Now, I know that the last three years together haven't always been easy, but they have  been wonderful and trying and filled with so many blessings to count nevertheless, and I am so happy that I got to share them all with you, my love. We really have made it through a lot, haven't we? I mean, you've moved from being one-and-a-half hours away to being four-and-a-half hours away to being one hour and fifteen minutes away and then back to being four-and-a-half hours away again, and I know that you moved that many times just for me.

I am humbled and thankful for you and your constant sacrifices in the name of our beautiful love. It means the world to me, as do you. We've both been in and out of work, what with my changing jobs twice since we've been together and your delivering water bottles with the family business and then looking for a full time job for three crazy-long years. I am beyond ecstatic that the Lord has blessed us both with jobs, but I am especially thankful that the Lord has answered our long awaited prayers and given you such a wonderful full-time job. Your perseverance and patience really paid off this time, babe, and the Lord is indeed good! I am beyond proud of you, just so you know.

Over the last three years I have watched you stand up as a great man to fight for what you love, including myself, so very valiantly. Because of you I have learned to love deeper, to move on, to grant others "grace cards", to breathe deeper, to laugh longer, to look at the bright side and to persevere even when the world doesn't seem to believe in us. I loved who you were when we first met at FUGE three years and four months ago, and I love who you are now at this very moment and who you are becoming day by day. I cannot wait to see how God continues to write our love story together. And I want you to know that I wouldn't trade our love, our hard times or our abundantly joy-filled times together for anything in the world! Truly, I wouldn't.

I love you with the intensity of stars, fisher!

So, here's to the next three years and beyond...

~ Always, Red

TLC Book Tour: Everything by Mary DeMuth (A Book Review + Giveaway)

Genre: Non-Fiction/Religion/ Christian Life/ Spiritual Growth
Release Date: 10/16/12
Number of Pages: 224
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Tag Line: What you give and what you gain to become like Jesus

Summary (snagged from amazon): "I don’t write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon. The last thing I want to do is provide a ‘how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps’ guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It all matters. Everything."

Author and speaker Mary DeMuth has been abused, foreclosed, abandoned, and betrayed. She has been pressed and drained till it was too much . . . But it was just enough to bring her to a place of surrender, piece by precious piece. In that surrender, she found the freedom of giving everything to God. And through Scripture, community, and the work of the Holy Spirit, she gives it all over again, every day.

In this gentle and challenging book, DeMuth describes the process and the nuances that shape us to be more like Christ. Her words are clear, vulnerable, and thought provoking, and every chapter is infused with Scripture.

Most of all, DeMuth provides personal and practical evidence that there is no greater pursuit than Christ. We must surrender everything, but it does not compare to the Everything He is, the Everything He gives. 

What I Loved: Everything was a super insightful book, and a fast paced read, which delved into the surrender-everything life of Mary DeMuth. I really enjoyed reading about Mary's life story, her heart and of course gaining some wonderful wisdom from her own journey to declare Jesus her everything. The whole time I was reading through this book I kept on thinking two very distinct things: (1) God I so needed to hear these words today! (2) Um, I thought I was already living an everything-for-Jesus kinda life in all areas of my life? Reading through Everything was like I was discovering how to live an all-out for Jesus life for the very first time alongside Mary DeMuth herself, over coffee. This book is also totally highlight-able, as in almost every other page in my copy of Everything is highlighted up. I absolutely can't wait to thumb back through this book over and over again!

The book itself is split into three different sections: head, heart and hands. And I loved this about the book, that it was divided in such a unique way, mainly because it really brought forth fresh new perspectives on how to get our heads, hearts and hands aligned just right so we can learn to live an everything-for-Jesus life in our everyday lives.

The chapters that really spoke to me, and even somewhat confronted me on how I'm not always fully living an "everything life," were the chapters on the six letter word {gospel} (ch. 2), worry (ch. 5), healing (ch. 10), being kind to yourself (ch. 12) and discipline (ch.18). Honestly, these were some of the most challenging, sucker-punch chapters, in my opinion, to my own self and my faith-walk. 

For example, in the chapter on worry, we discover alongside Mary that worry can become an idol, a go-to mode that can control us if we let it. Worry can also cause us to lose belief in just how BIG our God really is. It's really all a faith and trust issue after all. And Mary DeMuth's Worry Wart Prayer that she includes in the book is such a wonderful resource. I'm so glad she included the prayer!

Everything's message is simple, really: Give Jesus EVERYTHING and gain EVERYTHING He offers.

What I Didn't Like So Much: There was nothing I didn't like, really. Honestly, I liked everything about Everything.

I'm Recommending This Book... If you are struggling to live your life for Christ in every single area, large or small in your life, then Everything: What You Give & What You Gain To Become Like Jesus  is a wonderful place to learn how to start. Grab your Bible, a highlighter, a cup of coffee or tea and dive into Everything so you can learn alongside Mary DeMuth how you too can fully surrender to living a life like Jesus. You will gain something from reading this book, rest assured.

About The Author: Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker who loves to help people live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. She's the author of fourteen books, including six novels and her critically acclaimed memoir, Thin Places. After church planting in Southern France, Mary and her husband and their three teenagers now live in a suburb of Dallas. Find out more at

Check Out These Other Links...

view the book trailer for Everything
Note: In conjunction with TLC Book Tours, I received a free copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson through Lisa Munley of TLC Book Tours. Thank you so much for contacting me about this tour, Lisa!

If you'd like to read other reviews of Everything by Mary DeMuth from the TLC Book Tour line up you can find them all HERE.

/ / /

Thanks to the lovely people over at TLC Book Tours one lucky Oh, Restless Bird reader will be receiving their very own copy of Everything! Isn't that exciting? Use the Rafflecopter gadget below to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway